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Collected Poems. 2 Vols. 
The Wine-Press. 

Included in Collected Poems 
bui published in separate volumes : 

Tales of the Mermaid Tavern 


The Enchanted Island and 
Other Poems 

Drake: An English Epic 


^U^ '71^. 




I, "TALEB or THE "^^M"" TATBBN, 





> • 

Copyright, 1913, hy 
Alfred Notbb 

AU rights reserved 

October, 19U 


RAD A, wife of the village doctor. 
SUBKA, her daughter^ aged twelve. 
ARRAM \two hostile soldiers quartered 
MICHAEL ) in her house ^ in time of war. 
NANKO, a half-witted schoolmaster. 

Several soldiers. 

The Scene is in the Balkans, in a village which 
has just been taken by the enemy, on Christmas 




Scene — A guest-chamber j the typical living-room 
of a prosperous village doctor in the Balkans. 
On the lefty a small window and an entrance 
door. On the rights a door leading into a bed- 
room. At the backj an open fire of logs is burth 
ing brightly. Over the fireplace is the eikonos- 
tasiSj with three richly coloured and gilded 
eikonSj the central one of the Madonna. The 
lights which is never allowed to go out^ is burning 
before it. The room is lit at present only by 
this J the fire-light^ and two candles in brass 
candlesticks on a black wooden table under the 
window. Rows of porcelain plates round the 
walls gleam fitfully. On either side of the eikonos- 
lasts is a large chiboukj with inlaid bowl and 
amber mouth-piece. There is a divan with scar- 


let rugs flung across it to the right of the fire; 
and there are several skins and rugs on the floor. 

Two Roumanian soldierSy Arram and Mi- 
chael, are seated at the tdble^ drinking. 

Rada, a dark handsome womany sits weeping 
with her head bowed in her hands, on the divan. 

Nanko, the idiot, sits on the floor, rubbing his 
hands, snapping his fingers, chuckling to him- 
self, and staring into the fire. 


Look here, my girl, where's the use of snivel- 
ling? You ought to think yourself damned 
lucky to be ahve. 


O my God! My God! 


This is war, this is ! And you can't expect war 
to be all cakes and cream. 

[They laugh and drink.] 




You ought to think yourself damned lucky 
to be ahve, and have two men quartered on you 
instead of one. If your husband and the rest 
of the villagers hadn't made such a disturbance, 
they might have been alive, too. 


Exactly! Exactly! I used to be a school- 
master, you know, in the old days; and, if you 
knew what I know, you'd understand, my dear, 
it's entirely a question of the survival of the 
fittest! The survival of the fittest! That's 
what it is. 


Wouldn't they have done the same to us, if 
they'd had the chance? We've got women and 
children at home snivelling and saying, "O my 
God, O my CJod," just like you. Don't you 
trouble about CJod. What can He do when both 
sides go down on their marrow-bones? He can't 
make both sides win, can He? 



OGod! God! God! 


[Getting up and standing in front of her.] 
Look here. We've had enough of this music. 
We've been cutting throats all day, and now we 
want to unbuckle a bit. There'll be hell to pay 
when the other boys come back. A pretty wild- 
goose chase you've sent them on, too, with your 
tale about the old Jew's money-bags. What was 
the game? You seemed mighty anxious to 
wheedle us aU out of the house; and you'd never 
get out of the village alive to-night. Listen to 

[There is an uproar outside^ a shotj and a 
woman^s screamy followed by the terrified cry 
of a child: 

"Ah! Ah! Father!"] 


The men are mad with zaki and blood and — 
other things. There's no holding them in, even 


from the chUdren. What chance would there be 
for a fine-looking wench like yourself? 


Don't tell me you were going out into that? 
[He points in the direction of the uproar.] Some- 
thing to hide on the spot, eh? Well, now you Ve 
got the others out of the way, we're going to 
have a look. What's in there? 

[He points^ the little door on the left.] 

[Rising to her feet slowly y steadying herself with 
one hand against the wallj and fixing her eyes 
on his face.] 

This is warj .isn't it? K I choose to revenge 
myself on those I hate — Glisten to me. I suppose 
you — ^want money. And I can tell you where to 
find it. 


Another wild-goose chase to the other end of 
the vaUey? 



No. In the old mill-house. Not a hundred 
yards away. Money, money enough to make us 

all rich. But [a cunning expression comes into 
her face] if I tell you where to find it, you must 
come back and give me my share. 


[Staring at her.] 
Another pack of lies ! What are you up to, eh? 


It^s been too much for her nerves. Don^t 
worry her, or she'll go out of her mind, and then 
there'll be nobody to get us our supper. 


That would be selfish, Rada. You know it's 
Christmas Eve. Nobody ought to think of 
impleasant things on Christmas Eve. I don't 
think it's right to spoil people's pleasure on 
Christmas Eve. What have you done with the 
Christmas tree, Rada? 



And who^s to blame? That^s what I want to 
know. You don't blame uSy do you? Why, as 
likely as not, we shall be fighting on your side 
against somebody else before next Christmas. 


What have you got in there? 
[He points to the door on the left again and ad- 
vances toward it.] 


[Hurriedly and as if misunderstanding hinij opens 
a cupboard between him and the door.] 

Food! Food! Food for himgry men! Food 
enough for a wolf-pack. Come on, help your- 


Holy St. Peter, what a larder! Look at this, 
Arram. Here's a dinner for forty men. 



[Laughing wildly.] 

Better take your pick before the others come. 
It's our Christmas dimier. 

[She thrusts dishes into Michael's hands and 
begins loading the table with food.] 


H you happen to have any crystallized plimis 
there, Rada, you might give me one. 


Lord, what a sight for hungry soldiers! We're 
in luck's way. Here, fetch me a bowl of water! 
I'm hungry; but there are times when you can't 
enjoy food without washing your hands. 

[Rada hesitates j then goes out of the room. Arram 
holds out a ring to Michael.] 

Her husband's ring. I got it off his finger 
When he went down. He lay there on his back 
Howling like a wolf, with his belly blown out. 


I put him out of his misery. Look at my hands. 
Ugh! I want to wash. 

[Nanko rises and peers at them.] 


Ah, but they're red. 
Red, aren^t they? And there's red on your coat, 

[He fingers it curiotcsly.] 

I suppose that's blood, eh? People are such 

Many of them never seem to understand 
That man's a fighting animal. They're afraid, 
Dreadfully afraid of the sight of blood. 
I think it's a beautiful colour, beautiful! 
You know, in the Old Testament, they used 
To splash it on the door-posts. 


[Pushing him of]^ 

Go and sit down, 
You crazy old devil! 

[Rada enters with a howl of water ^ sets it an a 

-» * " » * 

J >' J 

xo RADA 

bench and returns to her place. Akram washes 
his hands.] 


My hands want washing, too, 
O Lord, youVe turned the water into wine! 
Fetch me some fresh. 

[Rada approachesy stares at the bawl and moves 
backj swaying a litUcj as if faint.] 



VU empty it. Give it to me. 
[He goes out.] 


The Old Testament, you know, is full of it. 
Who is thiSy it says, that cometh from Edam 
In dyed garments from Bozrah? It was blood 
That dyed their garments. And in Revelations 
Blood came out of the wine-press, till it splashed 
The bridles of the horses; and the seas ^ 


Were all turned into blood. Doesn^t that show 
That man's a fighting animal? 


[Goes to the door on the right and tries to open it.] 

What's in here? 


[Thrusting herself between him and the door.] 
No! No! Don't go in there! Don't go in there! 


So that's the treasury, is it? Loot? More loot? 
What is it? The family stocking? 

[Arram enters with the bowl and sets it down. 
Then goes to the table and begins eating.] 


O, no! no! 
The stocking is in the chimney-corner, seel 

[He shakes the empty stocking that hangs in the 


13 RADA 

All ready for Santa Claus. It's a new custom. 
They do it in Germany. The children, there, 
Believe tjiat Santa Claus comes down the chim- 
The doctor studied in Germany, you know, 


0, ho! So that's the trouble! A little girl, 

Rada, a little girl? Well, Santa Claus 

Must wash his hands. We mustn't frighten her. 


It is my little girl. She's twelve years old. 
Don't wake her. She has slept all through this 

Help me to save her. I'll do anything for you. 
Anything! Only help me to get her away 
Safely. I'll pray for you every night of my life. 

[The door opens behind her^ and Subka, in her 
night-dress i steals into the room,] 


Ah, I knew it couldn't be Santa Claus, 

RADA 13 


What? Don't you know me? I came down the 


I don't see any soot upon your face. 

[She goes nearer.] 
Nor on your clothes. That's red paint, isn't it? 


Can't help it. Santa Claus — ^that is my name. 
What's yoxirs? 


Mine? Subkal 


I've a little girl 
At home called Subka! Just about your age. 


You didn't come down the chimney. 

[To Michael.] 
He didn't, did he? 


[She runs to the stocking and examines it.] 
There's nothing in the stocking. 


Ah, Subka, 
That remains to be seen; that remams to be seen. 


[Pointing to Michael.] 
Well, who is that? 


The man that carries my bag. 


[With a sudden note of fear in her voice.] 
Mother, where's Father? 


[Putting her arm round her.] 

He will soon be here. 
It's all right, darling. 



Has the gramophone come? 


Yes, darling, long ago. 


You never told me, 


That was a secret, Subka, a great secret. 


I thought, perhaps, you were getting the Christ- 
mas tree ready. 
Can't we? Father won't mind. 


[PuUing the Christmas tree out from the corner^ 

Ah, here it is. 
Now that's a good idea. It's Christmas Eve, 
We'll get it ready. 

i6 RADA 


Here, put it on the table. 


What shall we hang on it? 


What do you think 
Of that, now? 

[He hangs a revolver on the tree.] 


[Clapping her hands.] 

O! O! What a great big pistol! 
That^ll be Father's present! And now what 

What else ? 


Well, Subka, what do you say to a 
How prettily it hangs upon the bough! 
See, Subka! 

RADA 17 


Why, it's just like Father's ring! 


[Striking a light.] 
And now we'll light the candles. 


[Clapping his hands and dancing.] 

Yea that's right! 
Light all the little candles on the tree! 
O, doesn't the pistol shine, doesn't the ring 


But O, it is like Father's ring. 
He had a little piece of Mother's hair 
Plaited inside it, just like that. It is 
My father's ring! 


No. There are many others 
Just like it, Subka, — ^hundreds, hundreds of 

x8 RADA 


And now, what's in that package over there? 


The gramophone ! O, that's the gramophone ! 
That's Father's Christmas present to us all, 


O, what a wonderful man the doctor was. 
Nobody else, in these parts, would have thought 
Of buying a gramophone. Let's open it! 


Yes! Yes! And we'll give Father a siuprise. 
It shall be pla3dng a tune when he comes in. 

[Arram opens the package. Nanko capers 
rounds rubbing his hands.] 


O, this will be a merry Christmas Eve. 

There now— just see how this kind gentleman 

RADA 19 

Has opened the package for us. Doesn't it show 
The value of training, military training? 
That's what we want. It benefits the health. 
Sets a man up. Look at old Peter's legs, 
He's a disgrace to the nation, a disgrace! 
Nobody shoots him, either. So he spoils 
Everything; for you know, you must admit, 
Subka, that war means natural selection, 
Survival of the fittest, don't you see? 
For instance, / survive, and you survive; 
Don't we? So Peter shouldn't spoil it all. 
They say that all the tall young men in France 
Were killed in the Napoleonic wars. 
So that most Frenchmen at the present day 
Are short and fat. Isn't that fimny, Subka? 

{She laughs^ 

Which shows us that tall men are not required 

To-day. So nobody knows. Perhaps thin legs 

Like Peter's may be useful after all 

In aeroplanes or something. Every ounce 

Makes a great difference there. Nobody knows. 

It's natural selection, after all. 

Survival of the fittest! Don't you see? 

Ah, now the gramophone's ready. Make it play 

"Proud Nikephor Determined!" 

20 RADA 


[Taking out a record.] 
Why, look here! 
Here is the tune for Christmas Eve, 


[While he speaks he looks to outer door^ and 
draws a curtain over the window.] 

Don't do it! 
Don't start it playing if you want to keep 
This Christmas party to ourselves, my boy. 
The men are mad with drink and — other things. 
Look here, Michael, what are we going to do 
About this youngster, eh? 


Better keep quiet 
Till morning. When the men have slept it oflf 
They'll stand a better chance of slipping away. 


O, what a pity, Subka! I did think 

RADA 31 

That we should have some music. Well — ^I 

Tell us the Christmas piece you learned in 

That's right! Stand there! No! Stand up on 
the bench. 

Your mother tells me that you won the prize 

For learning it so beautifully, Subka. 

That's right. These good kind gentlemen shall 

Your Christmas piece. 


It's about the first Christmas, 

[Her hands behind her as if in school^ she obeys 


She laid him in a manger; because there 
was no room for them in the inn. 

And there were in the same country shepherds 
abiding in the field, keeping watch over 
their flock by night. 

And, lo, the angel of the Lord carfiej uppn 

^ •< 

22 RADA 

them, and the glory of the Lord shone 
round about them: and they were sore 

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for 
behold, I bring you good tidings of 
great joy, which shall be to all 

For imto you is bom this day in the dty of 

David a Saviour, which is Christ the 

And this shall be a sign unto you: ye 
shall find the babe wrapped in 
swaddling clothes, l3ang in a manger." 

And suddenly there was with the angel a 

multitude of the heavenly host praising 
God and sa3dng, 

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace, good will toward men." 

[There is silence for a moment^ then the sound of a 
pistol shot J a scream^ and a roar of drunken 
laughter without j followed by a furious pounding 
on the outer door.] 

RADA 23 


Here, Michael, what the devil are we to do 
About this child? 

[He calls through the door.] 

Clear out of this! The house 
Is full! We want to sleep. 

[There is a louder shout outside^ and the pounding 

is resumed.] 

Bundle the child 
Into that room, woman, at once ! 

[Rada snatches the revolver from the Christmas 
tree and hurries Subka into the room on the 
right J just as the otUer door bursts open and a 
troop of drunken soldiers appear on the thresh- 
oldf shouiing and furious with drink.] 


Come on! 
They're in that room. I saw them! The only 

Left in the village. Come, it's Christmas Eve, 
Comrades. You've had your fim. 

24 RADA 

We want to deep. 


Clear out of this, 


Well, hand the women over. 


There are no women here. 

I saw them! 


You bloody wolf, 


Come! Come! Come! It's Christmas 


Well — ^if there are no women — ^where's the harm 
In letting us poor soldiers take a squint 

RADA 25 

Thro' yonder door. My God, we'll do it, too. 
Come on, my boys! 

[They make a rush towards the room.] 


Be careful! Or you'll smash 
The Christmas tree! You'll smash the gramo- 
phone ! 

[A soldier tries the door on the right. Suddenly it 
is opened from within and Rada appears on 
the threshold with the revolver in her hand.] 


Liars! Liars! 


There is one woman here, 

One woman and a child 

And war they tell me is a noble thing; 
It is the mother of heroic deeds. 
The nurse of honour, manhood. 


Christ, a speech! 

26 RADA 


Yes, and your training benefits your health. 


\Who is crouching aver the fire again.] 

Certainly 9 Radal Military training! 
Life is a battle. 


You hear, drunk as you are, 
Up to your necks in blood, you hear this fool. 
This poor old fool, piping his dreary cry; 
And through his lips, and through his softening 

You and the men that buy you, statesmen, 

Teach the poor sheep of the world that war is 

Go! Take your manhood out of this. Or 


[She threatens to shoot.] 

I have one bullet for the child, and five 
To share between you and myself! 

RAD A 27 


O, Christ, 
A speech! 

[They fall hack before the revolver as she raises U.] 


K you have children of your own, 
Listen to me . • . The child is twelve years 

She has never had one hard word spoken to her 
In all her life. 


Nor shall she now, by Godl 
Where is she? Bring her out! 


Twelve years of agel 
That's ripe enough for marriage to a soldier. 

{They laugh.] 



She can't shoot! Look at the way she's holding 

Duck down and make a rush for it! Come on! 

[Several of them make a rushy Rada steps back and 
shuts the door in their faces.] 


Locked out, by God! We'll have to break it 


She'll keep her word. You'll never get 'em alive. 


Never. I know that kind. You'd better dear 


Come on! We'll burst the door. 

[They put their shoulders to the door and it begins 

RADA 29 

to give. AsRAM tnakes a sign to Michael, 
urging him to interfere. A revolver shot is heard 
within. The men pause^ and there is another 


By God, she's done it! 

[There is a booming of distant artiUery.] 


Hear that! The enemy! 
Making a night attack! 

[There is a loud bugle call without.] 


There goes the bugle! 

[They all rush out^ except Nanko, who looks out 
into the night after them, then closes the outer 
door, takes a crystallized plum from the table, 
crosses the room and stares at the floor, near 
the door on the right.] 

30 RADA 


[Calls aloud.] 

Rada, these plums are excellent. Don't you see 
Life is a battle! Survival of the fittest! 
Something red again. Trickling imder the door? 
Blood, I suppose. Well, I don't think it's right 
To spoil a person's pleasure on Christmas Eve. 
I wonder how the gramophone does work? 
He said the time that he was putting in 
Was just the thing for Christmas Eve. I wonder, 
I wonder what it was. 

[He picks up the box from which the record was 

taken and reads the title.] 

"il Christmas Carol 
Sung by the monks of St. Peter's monastery 
At midnight mass^ on Christmas Eve — ^adeste, 


Fancy that! How wonderful! 
A Christmas carol on the gramophone! 
So all the future ages will be siure 
To know exactly what religion was. 
To think we cannot hear it! Well, no matter. 
These plimis are excellent. Everybody's gone. 

RADA 31 

To think / was the fittest, after all! 
Come, Rada, you're pretending! 

[He accidentally starts the gramophone working 
and jumps back, a little alarmed. He runs to 
the door and knocks] 

Rada! Rada! 
Fve started it! Subkal Subka! Do you hear? 
The gramophone's working! 

[He stoops down and looks at the floor again. The 
artillery booms like a thunder peal in the dis- 
tance. Then the gramophone drowns it with the 
deep voices of the monks, a great chorus, sing- 
ing ADESTE, FiDELES ! Nanko dips Ms finger 
in something on the floor and stares at it. A 
look of horror comes into his face. He stands 
with his motUh open, listening.] 

It's true! 


of the first performance at the Christmas (1913) 

Festival of The MacDowell Club 

OF New York City 


A Drama in One Act by Alfred Nayes 

(A Qiristmas Tragedy of the Balkans, being a 
plea for "Peace on earUi, good will toward men.") 


Rada, wife of the village doctor, Miss Mirzah Cheslir 

SxTBKA, her daughter y aged twelve^ Miss Lenore Phelps 

Arram, {two hostUe soldiers ( Mr. Henry Hull 

y quartered on her < "^ 

Michael, ) house in time of war ( Mr. Wright Kramer 

Nanko, a half-witted schoolmaster, 

Mr. Charles White Whittlesey 

First Soldier • • • Mr. Charles Douville Cobum 

Second Soldier Mr. Harold Herts 

. . . Mr. Charles F. Peters 

• • • Mr. Harold Butterfield 

. . . • Mr. W. G. Belew 

Other Soldiers 

Scene : The living-room of a country doctor in the 
Balkans, in a village which has just been taken 
by the enemy. 

TncE : Christmas Eve. 

Stage Director, Miss Mary Shaw 

>5PR2 1921